Celestial nomenclature has long been a controversial topic.

At its inaugural meeting in 1922 in Rome, the IAU standardized the constellation names and abbreviations.

But from time to time the IAU takes decisions and makes recommendations on issues concerning astronomical matters affecting other sciences or the public.

Such decisions and recommendations are not enforceable by any national or international law; rather they establish conventions that are meant to help our understanding of astronomical objects and processes.

The IAU has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919.

The various IAU Working Groups normally handle this process, and their decisions primarily affect the professional astronomers.

It is emphasized, however, that language conventions are the responsibility of individual nations or groups of nations.

While the IAU is willing to help to achieve a minimum degree of orthographic consistency as regards astronomical terms, it cannot undertake to do so for all languages, nor is it in the power of the IAU to enforce the application of any such conventions.

The procedure is as follows: We invite you to consult the IAU Resolutions 5 and 6 (PDF file, 92KB) adopted on August 2006, at our XXVIth General Assembly in Prague, as well as the press release published on the occasion.

More recently IAU Committees or Working Groups have certified the names of astronomical objects and features.

In the following links you can find further information on how different objects and features are named.